On Homosexuality and Abortion, the Voice of the Third World

Pope Francis urges openness to the “peripheries” of the globe. But then it cannot be Germany and France that establish the Church’s teaching and practice on gay marriage and communion for the remarried

by Sandro Magister

ROME, May 6, 2014 – In the run-up to the synod on the family, one of the most striking elements has been the questionnaire distributed “for the purpose of obtaining concrete and real data on the theme of the synod”:

> “Pastoral challenges…”

Both the formulation of the 39 questions of the questionnaire and the ways in which the responses were collected were not such as to permit a statistical compilation of the results. The responses were supposed to remain confidential. Some episcopates made them public, however, especially in Germany, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland, highlighting the vast distance in their respective countries between the Church’s moral teaching and the behavior of many of the faithful.

The secretariat of the synod is preparing a comprehensive report on the responses to the questionnaire.

But in the meantime, it can be useful to skim the results of a scientific survey carried out in 40 countries of the five continents by the most accredited center of research on religion, the Washington-based Pew Research Center:

> Global Views on Morality

The survey, conducted between 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and made public on April 15, asked the interviewees if they thought eight situations or behaviors were morally acceptable or not, six of them regarding the synod’s theme, the family:

– abortion,
– homosexuality,
– extramarital sexual relations on the part of married persons,
– sexual relations between unmarried adults,
– divorce,
– contraception.

The European countries surveyed are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia.

In North America, the United States and Canada.

In Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela.

In Asia, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Philippines, South Korea.

In Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda.

In Oceania, Australia.

The responses vary from issue to issue and from country to country. But while contraception and divorce are approved of by the majority of the population everywhere, abortion, homosexuality, and extramarital relations are considered morally unacceptable by the majority of interviewees in the majority of countries.

For example, here are the percentages of persons who in each of the following countries consider abortion morally unacceptable:

Philippines 93 percent
Ghana 92
Indonesia 89
Uganda 88
El Salvador 85
Pakistan 85
Bolivia 83
Kenya 82
Nigeria 80
Brazil 79
Malaysia 79
Tunisia 77
Venezuela 77
Chile 64
Mexico 63
Egypt 62
South Africa 61
India 58
South Korea 58
Argentina 56
Lebanon 56
Greece 54
Palestinian Territories 54
Jordan 53
Senegal 52
Turkey 52
United States 49
Poland 47
Russia 44
Italy 41
China 37
Israel 35
Japan 28
Australia 26
Canada 26
Spain 26
United Kingdom 25
Germany 19
Czech Republic 18
France 14

While these are the percentages of those who consider homosexuality morally unacceptable:

Ghana 98 percent
Egypt 95
Jordan 95
Palestinian Territories 94
Indonesia 93
Uganda 93
Tunisia 92
Kenya 88
Malaysia 88
Nigeria 85
Pakistan 85
Lebanon 80
Turkey 78
Russia 72
El Salvador 70
Senegal 68
India 67
Philippines 65
South Africa 62
China 61
South Korea 57
Bolivia 51
Venezuela 49
Greece 45
Poland 44
Israel 43
Mexico 40
Brazil 39
United States 37
Chile 32
Japan 31
Argentina 27
Italy 19
Australia 18
United Kingdom 17
Canada 15
Czech Republic 14
France 14
Germany 8
Spain 6

As can be noted, the main division in the numbers is between some European countries and Canada on the one hand, and on the other the African countries and those with a predominantly Muslim population.

In Latin America, Argentina is the country that comes closest to the European standards.

But the survey of the Pew Research Center also highlights the nature of the division: between the majority opinion in some areas of Europe and North America, where indifference reigns with regard to abortion, the dissolution of marriage, and “gender” ideology, and the opposite sensibility of other immense areas of the world, especially in Africa and Asia, which nonetheless have serious problems of their own, from arranged marriages to polygamy.

If, as Pope Francis tirelessly preaches, the Church’s mission is not to close itself off in its old geographical and cultural perimeters but to open itself to the “peripheries” of the world, it is evident that the Catholicism of Germany cannot be – as is happening to some extent – the universal parameter for changing the teaching and practice of the Church in matters of family, communion for the divorced and remarried, and same-sex marriage.


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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